Selfish Devotion

Fist clenched, Warrick scribbled signatures across paperwork. His wife, face pale, breathed hard on a hoverbed. She looked worse with each day.
Labouring took a greater toll.
She screamed before the relieved laughter and a nurse placed their child in her arms.
Warrick relinquished the papers and nodded.
The nurse reclaimed the newborn.
His wife turned her head to him, eyes trained on their child, “Warrick? What’ve you done?”
Men guided the hoverbed to a cryo-chamber.
She screamed, “No! I want my baby!”
Warrick steeled himself, muttering, “should’ve had the treatments.” He left the child. “I’ll find a cure.”

This piece is guided by Charli’s weekly 99 word Flash Fiction prompt over at the Carrot Ranch; ‘A Hard Place and a Connection’.

It is inspired by my current WIP and is the turning point in just one character’s life that created a void and lifelong obsession. It creates the goal that propels him through the novel and the demons he must face.

The hard place is his decision and the connection is the love they share as life partners; his selfish devotion to her.

I must apologise for my brief explanation but, with a 3.5 week old bub myself, I’m a tiny bit sleep-deprived.

Wishing everyone the best of luck with this prompt! I can’t wait to see what ensues.

Remember, each week there is a new prompt, and the warm community at the Carrot Ranch welcome absolutely everyone.

Flash Fiction #2

Stuffy in her hazard suit, the team scrambled around in the jet, gathering equipment and suiting up.
She glanced at Lucas.
“I keep saying, the random selection was a bad idea,” his voice came through their linked comm. system inside their helms.
She smiled.
Their suited commander called out names. Each person stood at the exit hatch.
Finally, “Iris Brooks,” he said.
She shifted her metal equipment case, flashed Lucas a smile and joined the line. Last, Lucas took his place behind her.

“I’m Sergeant Vance Redmond, team commander. We’ll depart shortly and head for the crater. No bullshit from anyone today. We are far from the Dome, and I won’t hesitate leaving you behind if you make my job difficult,” with a gloved hand, he tapped a weapon strapped to his suit belt, “There’ll be a base tent near the ridge. I want you back there by 1600 hours. Late and we’ll leave. Stick to your teams and don’t lose your guard. Get moving.”

Iris glanced at the digital clock display on the inside of her visor; 1400 hours. Just enough time to get in, collect samples, and head out.
The sealed hatch opened, sucking the heat from the cabin out into the darkness.
Instant relief.

Redmond set up a base tent 10 minutes’ walk from the jet.
Iris set off with Lucas and their assigned guard, helmet lights swaying through the dust and icy darkness, dead Earth crunching beneath their heavy boots.
They climbed the crater ridge, gloves struggling to find grip and slid down to even ground below, picking up their pace.
The ridge’s incredible mass could be seen against the faint orange glow seeping through the dusty clouds above, while darkness blanketed all else.

“We’re here,” Lucas said.
Iris’ gaze dropped to the ground. Loose stones lay strewn. She knelt, opened her case, clumsy with the gloves and nerves, and collected different rock and earth samples. The beam from her helmet glinted against crystal dust.
She heard Lucas’ feet crunching a few steps away.

Something slammed into her side and she fell, clutching her sealed case.
A gunshot.
Struggling upright, Iris glimpsed two dark figures in the flash, struggling against Lucas.
“Run!” their guard yelled.
“No!” she started toward Lucas.
“Samples…” Lucas forced out between grunts, “go!”
The guard grabbed her as he ran.
Another gunshot.
“We can’t!” Iris cried out. Glancing back, she saw them fall, “Lucas!”

Still running, halfway back to base, Redmond joined their comm. system, “Brooks?” he demanded.
“Attacked…Lucas…” she said between breaths.
“Attackers were cloaked, I couldn’t fire, I risked hitting him,” the guard said.
“Did anyone follow?”
“Lucas had both.”

Iris sat, half un-suited, the jet racing back to the Dome. She felt numb.
Redmond said they couldn’t go back.
She wasn’t allowed to argue.
If only she’d stopped. The guard could’ve helped him.
She closed her eyes and the fight flashed in her mind. She couldn’t stop picturing a shimmer in the air behind Lucas as they fell.

Flash Fiction #1

This is my first attempt at Flash Fiction, guided by Holly Lisle’s free How to Write Flash Fiction that doesn’t Suck Workshop. It’s inspired by my current WIP (an epic sci-fi/fantasy novel).

I’d love to hear your thoughts:
The bench curved nicely, cradling her. The back of it supported her spine. She relaxed; relieved from the pressure of her cold lab stool.
A willow bowed overhead, drooping around her, and a stream trickled somewhere nearby.
She smelled broken leaves and cut grass.
Brown ears flicked behind a bush, catching her eye.
She approached slowly. Peering between the leaves, she spotted a deer’s brown eye.
Its head turned, ears forward, studying.
She stepped around the bush. The deer’s gaze trained on her.
She reached out, avoiding the deer’s eye.
It stretched its neck toward her.
Fingertips just inches from its soft nose, she felt its warm breath against her skin.
The deer flickered as her fingers passed straight through.
She let her arm drop to her side.
It turned away and bounded off into the trees. Her surrounds melted, leaving behind a bright white room, with a single chair.
“You can’t keep doing that,” echoed a voice from the walls.
“I know, Lucas.”
She left the Holochamber.

Her white apartment walls gave her a headache, but she didn’t have the energy to get up and adjust the setting.
A machine spoke, “your espresso is ready Ma’am. You have two credits remaining this month.”
She’d have to get up and get her coffee though.
She sipped, the warmth seeped through her as she leant against the bench.
Opposite, images flicked across the wall; a smiling lady in a white coat, an Orangutan’s arms around her. A baby gorilla. A cat, sprawled beneath blue sky.
Her eyes fell on her computer screen, an email flagged red.
Subject: URGENT Specimen Complication.
Her heart sunk.
She tapped the screen, placing her coffee aside.

Dr Brooks,

Specimen HP0127 escaped captivity.
Due to complications, HP0127 was terminated in order to protect human life.
Another specimen will be transferred from the GenGrowth lab as soon as possible for your research.
Do you require another from Family Ponginae to replace 0127? Or would you like one from Gorillinae instead?
Also, submit your completed report for specimen HG0035 tomorrow. Allocated food is finished and we need to end its residence.

Thank you for your patience and understanding,

Dr Morris

A lump stuck firm in her throat. She gazed at the screen through tears for a moment before she laid in bed. Her hot coffee awaited morning.

Early next morning, she gazed out the jet’s window, her head abuzz from caffeine. A dark landscape of dust and death stretched below.
“I heard about 0127.”
Lucas’ familiar voice drifted into her thoughts. He sat beside her.
Acid rain began to sheet the windows as they sped past.
“We will find something this time, I can feel it.”
She doubted anything had survived through the force at the site of the asteroid impact, but she appreciated anything that could keep her mind off of 0127.
He was trying to cheer her up; she flashed him a smile and contemplated letting 0035 loose on Dr Morris.
He’d do some lovely damage.

Potential Excerpt #2

I haven’t posted for a while now and, speaking of that, haven’t written for a while either. I thought I could use some free writing to get some thoughts on paper – or screen.

I decided to try out in kamikaze mode. That was interesting. I must admit that I began to freak a little every time it would start deleting my work if I stopped typing for too long. A great free writing tool, definitely, if you don’t want your piece to be too polished on the first go and if you just want to get something written.

Anyway, about the piece. It was inspired by my current Work In Progress (WIP), that elusive debut novel that has me banging my head against a wall in an attempt to focus and push through the endless character profiles. I thought some plain, old fashioned, writing was in order.

This piece is by no means set in stone, and it has been minimally edited, only for grammar. It’s a compilation of ideas and feelings and I think it’s derived from somewhere near the end of the WIP. I do hope you enjoy it. I’m particularly fond of that very first sentence, but that’s about all.

She sat amongst the lush grass, it flowed and washed upon the breeze. She gazed out over the field, sensing every little living thing in the grass around her, and within the trees surrounding the valley.

Footsteps interrupted her serenity. They were a fair way off but close to her perimeter. She thrust her mind out toward the source, delving deep into the intentions of the creature. It was a man, alone, simple. He carried something. She sensed the excess weight pulling at his hip as he took each step across the uneven terrain, dodging rocks and branches. She felt his body freeze, gazing around through the trees as if someone was there, watching.

She could see what he saw, and noticed nothing unusual. He took a breath and continued onward, slower now, each footstep carefully placed, his entire body tense. His gaze diverted off to one side, she nudged him with her own desires and his direction followed; a slight angle back to his origin, away from her home. She smiled to herself.

A presence invaded her studies, and she pulled her mind back to the field, keeping hold of a subtle link to the man lurking within the forest. She gazed up at a familiar dark face. He’d touched her gently on the shoulder, knowing she wasn’t within herself. She conducted her ‘studies’ often, keeping a watchful eye upon the surrounds, keeping them all safe and protected.

“Dinner is ready,” he said, turning to walk away.

I won’t be long. She spoke internally, always connected to his thoughts; she found it thrilling, and easier.

You know I can’t stand when you talk like this, he said, his back to her.

“I’m sorry.”

He continued toward their camp, her connection to him growing slightly weaker with each pace.

Potential excerpt #1

The mass of rotting leaves felt soft beneath the soles of her feet, it played havoc with her senses and balance, she never quite thought a forest floor would be so . . . wet. Yet here she was, creeping beneath the underbrush, searching for a safe haven, as you do when you’re alone and grossly unequipped for an alien forest. Crouching, peering through an endless array of ferns, tree trunks and plants with large leaves and vibrant flowers, she gasped as one hand slipped off a moss-covered stone beside her feet and onto the damp ground. She felt the slimy decay first hand, squishing between her fingers and she yanked her hand away, trying in vain to wipe the mess off onto the trunk of an old tree behind, ending up with more foreign muck than she had started. Suppressing a gag, she brushed it off onto her hazard suit, well, what remained of the pants she’d secretly acquired for the journey. She’d have to get a new one made on her return, if they’d ever accept her back on friendly terms. She pictured old style wanted posters plastered across the interior of the City Tower, sporting her bland face, freckles and all, and she wasn’t entirely sure how menacing she’d appear to the public, if at all. Back to the situation at hand, speaking of her hand, which was still damp and slimy, she made a conscious effort not to brush her curls from her eyes with that one. She couldn’t see anything ahead, just more forest. Surely there had to be someone civilised on the planet. Resuming her half-crawl, half-creep through the underbrush, she kept her ears wide open for any signs of life, hostile or otherwise – preferably otherwise – as she ducked her head beneath what felt to be the hundredth fern. Her neck was getting sore. She rounded a particularly large tree trunk, which must’ve been at least a thousand years old since it took a while to reach the other side. A while of clambering over roots with her slimy hand, during which she slipped multiple times and she even managed to bang her forehead against one. That would bruise. Around this frustratingly large tree was a wooden cottage. Her heart leapt and she picked up her pace, once she’d slid down from the thick roots. The base of the cottage tilted outwards to either side and continued on to join a loose ring of trees encircling the structure. The wooden walls were long thick branches, entwined and endless. Her pace slowed. The cottage appeared as if it had grown from the roots of the trees. Who knew what was possible on this world? Tiny leaves sprouted beneath a few round windows and large, waxy leaves blanketed what would have been a roof. She glanced around, apparently alone. Reaching the door, she tried peering through gaps in the wood; nothing, nothing but darkness. Oh well, that should mean no body is home, right? She took her chance, if she didn’t find a place to rest and clean up soon she’d surely lose it. Holding her breath, she tapped lightly on the wood, “hello?” She whispered. She flinched as the door shifted – as it does in these situations. It swung inwards, leaves along the hinges rustling. Small baubles hanging along the ceiling, about as big as Christmas ornaments, began to glow, casting the room in a soft green light; a fascinating change from the sea of deep purples and reds outside. They were cold, alien, whereas this green held warmth, familiarity. She stepped inside onto a thatched floor. Stable, dry, welcoming. The tree roots formed a single-roomed cottage. With a crude, wooden bed extending from one wall, a small table and a couple of chairs from another, and what seemed to be a tub, with a spout above, built into a small alcove in another wall. Cupboards and hay baskets filled any empty space. It was built for necessity, and certainly more than enough for what she needed. Glancing back outside through the door, it swung closed and she froze for a moment, expecting to see something there with her. But, she was still alone, at least, she couldn’t tell if anyone else was there. Body detecting an opportunity to rest, her eyes began to hurt and she studied the small bed. A layer of hay and feathers littered the top. She sat on it, surprised by its softness. Not quite as soft as what we are used to, but after her adventure, it was miraculous. Laying down, struggling to keep her eyes open or her limbs functioning, she barely noticed as a blanket of moss drifted down over her and she settled off to sleep. Her mind sharpened, detecting a birdsong somewhere nearby, how long had she been asleep? Raising her hands from beneath her blanket, she rubbed her eyes and struggled to open them, one of her hands felt gunky and she instantly regretted touching her face. She glanced up at the door. She bolted upright, almost falling back off the end of the bed as she noticed the huge, slanted black eyes gazing at her. Long stringy hair framed the creature’s sharp features, its dark skin laced with what looked like the pale veins of leaves, sending shivers through her core. She daren’t move as the creature watched, with what she thought was a smile, playing across its thin lips, revealing a hint of sharp, white teeth.